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Civilian deaths mount as US secret unit pounds IS in Syria: Report
Civilian deaths mount as US secret unit pounds IS in Syria: Report

New York, Dec 17 (TIWN) A single top secret US strike cell launched tens of thousands of bombs and missiles against the Islamic State (IS) terror group in Syria, but in the process several civilians were killed, a news report said.

The strike cell "circumvented rules imposed to protect non-combatants, and alarmed its partners in the military and the CIA by killing people who had no role in the conflict: farmers trying to harvest, children in the street, families fleeing fighting, and villagers sheltering in buildings", Xinhua news agency quoted the report by The New York Times as saying.  Based on interviews with multiple current and former military and intelligence officials, the report found that the unit was called Talon Anvil, it said.  It worked in three shifts around the clock between 2014 and 2019, pinpointing targets for the US to hit: convoys, car bombs, command centers and squads of enemy fighters, the newspaper added.  According to the report, Talon Anvil was small, at times fewer than 20 people operating from anonymous rooms cluttered with flat screens, but played an outsize role in the 112,000 bombs and missiles launched against the IS, in part because it embraced a loose interpretation of the military's rules of engagement.  Every year when the strike cell operated, the civilian casualty rate in Syria increased significantly, Larry Lewis, a former Pentagon and State Department adviser who co-authored a 2018 Defence Department report on civilian harm, was quoted as saying.

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